Marvel Super Hero SquadESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games
Developer: Blue Tongue
Any kid nowadays should know of the Marvel Super Hero Squad line of action figures. For those kids, or adults for that matter of fact, who are not, I recommend that you just take a walk down to your local Toys R Us where you will find oodles of these pintsized takes on the Marvel Super Hero universe. They are cute and fun to look at. It was only a matter of time before this line of toys was turned into a game, heck it is a Saturday morning cartoon for goodness sake. Well that game has recently been released to the masses. So how does this kid friendly Marvel Super Hero game stack up? You will have to read on to find out.
Visually Super Hero Squad is not that bad at all. It does remain pretty true to the source material, which is traced back to those short and cute action figures that the cartoon, and now game, are based on. I found that the representation of each super hero is pretty neat. You have never seen the Hulk, Iron Man or Silver Surfer look this way, expect of course if you collect the figurines or watch the cartoon. Regardless, the game really does bring the life the toys that it is originated from.
As for the technical side of things, I’d say that the game is solid here too. With a steady framerate, I rarely noticed any slowdown, and if there was, it was when things got really, really crazy on screen, but that was far and few for me. There is also ample use of special effects too, as evidenced by the explosions, special powers, and even some fire effects in the background now and then. You will find yourself surprised with how the special effects are implemented, but just don’t expect anything of the quality you’d find on the more powerful consoles out there.
The voice acting during the cut-scenes in the game is adequate enough to resemble a Saturday morning cartoon. Given that I have kids of my own, I am used to the way the game sounds, and a lot and kids themselves won’t mind the voice acting; however, I am sure parents on the whole will cringe at some of the voices as they may grate the more ‘mature’ observers. As for the rest of the sound effects, they manage to portray the beat-em-up atmosphere to a tee. From the punches, kicks, and weapons being used, to the explosions and carnage that results, everything is present and accounted for in Super Hero Squad.
Marvel Super Hero Squad is based on a cartoon based on a toy line, but given that it has the term “Marvel” in it one can hope for a true super hero experience, including the story. Well this game does offer the typical good versus evil, with the evil being Dr. Doom and his rag tag army of henchmen, just don’t expect a deep and engaging storyline, especially when you consider that the target audience is kids. That being said, there are some cut-scenes that move forward any semblance of a story, but in the end it is pretty secondary to what the game is about, mashing the bad guys.
Super Hero Squad is best described as a two player beat-em-up. It is a simple affair with you taking control of one super hero and the AI taking control of the other. Should you have a friend, or family member, who want to play they can opt to join you for some two player co-op fun. Each stage is character themed, so if you are fighting with Thor, Captain America, Spidey, or Wolverine, expect to be in different areas as you pound through the baddies.
Controlling the on-screen action on the Wii isn’t that bad. You will find that, as with any beat-em-up, you have your attack, heavy attack, grab, jump, and even a finisher move, all assigned to your Wii Remote. Some of the moves are completed using a waggle here or a waggle there, as should be expected with a Wii game, but they are not too complex and are pretty well implemented in the game. That being said, most of your control is completed through button presses, which for a game like this does make sense.
As I started my adventure, I had high hopes for this title, given that it is a kid spin on some very dark and well known Marvel super heroes and villains. There is no denying that the whole idea of a cute super hero squad battling cute versions of Marvel villains has a lot of promise. Unfortunately as I battled through the various levels I came across a few issues that made this game somewhat less enjoyable then I had hoped.
First off is the camera that is implemented in the game. I found that it moved way too much as was not nearly as focused on the action as it could have been. There were many times when I wish I could have seen more of what I was facing (e.g. swarms of enemies) but the camera, which is of the automatic kind, did not allow for this to occur. It seemed to move on its own in a fairly random and strange fashion. That is not the only issue with it either. Given that this is a two player cooperative game, and you can have a friend or family member join you, you’d expect the camera to be friendly here, but again it is not. It is as if the camera only focuses on the ‘host’ (e.g. the player who starts the game) and this causes the whole experience to become one of where you are too focused on keeping both of your characters within the same area on screen within view of the camera as it does not pull back if one or the other is lagging behind a bit. It can be quite frustrating and something that should not be occurring in games of today.
Another issue I had was with the computer AI found in the game, specifically the enemies I faced. It is not that they are hard; it is the opposite actually, as they can be incredibly dim-witted more times than not. You will find that you can run up to them and hit them quite a few times before they finally react and start to fight back. It is quite strange to be able to make your way up to an enemy while he stands there mindlessly only to have them ‘wake-up’ after taking a few hits. Now maybe this was somewhat intentional given that kids are the audience here, but most kids should not be too inept when playing this game given that the ESRB rating is E10+, which is a somewhat old when considering what defines a kid title.
The final issue I have, which I know will affect any kid playing this game, is that the mission objectives are not always that clear. There are various requirements for each mission, and unless you listen closely to the narrator who will point them out, you may find yourself searching the level for what you are supposed to do. This would not be a major issue for the hardcore or older gamer, but for the kids who will be playing this game; it will be an issue for sure. There will be many times when kids will not know what to do, or where to go. This can be blamed on the design of the game overall, as there should have been more in-game indicators directing one to the objectives integrated into in-game HUD. Parents, or older brothers or sisters, may have to help those who the game is targeted towards get through this issue. Sure, it’s a great way to get some family to sit down with others to play, but it is by fault of the game, and not by design.
On the non-cooperative multiplayer front, there is a battle arena where up to four players can mindlessly beat-up on each other with their superhero of choice. This can be fun in short bursts, and it can also help put to rest the “my super hero can beat up your super hero” arguments that many kids get into nowadays.
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